In brief | Nation & world briefs 082713


Rare military death penalty possible for convicted Fort Hood gunman as sentencing phase begins

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army psychiatrist convicted of the Fort Hood rampage that killed 13 people begins the sentencing phase of his trial Monday facing a possible death sentence for the deadliest mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation.

Maj. Nidal Hasan showed no reaction after being found guilty last week by a military jury, which will now decide whether the Virginia-born Muslim who said he opened fire on unarmed American soldiers to protect insurgents abroad should be executed.

Twelve of the dead were soldiers, including a pregnant private who pleaded for the unborn child’s life. More than 30 others were wounded in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post, where investigators collected more than 200 bullet casings.

At the minimum, the 42-year-old Hasan will spend the rest of his life in prison.

“This is where members (of the jury) decide whether you will live or whether you will die,” Col. Tara Osborn, the trial judge, told Hasan on Friday following his conviction.

As Chicago Public Schools embark on mayor’s ‘new beginning,’ Safe Passage workers stand watch

CHICAGO — Thousands of Chicago Public Schools students will head to new schools Monday, the first day of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called “a new beginning” for the nation’s third-largest district after a number of schools were closed.

As students go, many will be accompanied by some unfamiliar faces: A crop of newly hired workers in yellow reflective vests, Chicago firefighters and even the security guards from local public libraries, all of them expected to stand guard to ensure kids get to and from school safely.

The effort known as Safe Passage — which stations workers and others along designated routes to help students who must cross gang boundaries — is perhaps the most visible sign of how much is at stake for students in a district that has long struggled academically and financially, as well as for a mayor who has vowed since taking office that he would turn things around.

“Safe Passage is about more than just building a route to school,” Emanuel told about 1,000 people during a training session last week. “It is about building a route to college, career and beyond, so that once our kids get to school, they get the world-class education they deserve.”

The Chicago Board of Education — hand-picked by Emanuel — voted in May to close about 50 elementary schools and programs, a move Emanuel and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said would allow the district to improve academics and help pay down a $1 billion budget deficit.

Zurich opens drive-in ‘sex boxes’ in a new experiment with its legal prostitution trade

ZURICH — No car, no sex.

That’s the rule for an experiment Zurich is launching Monday to make prostitution less of a public nuisance and safer for women.

Switzerland has long been famous for its mountaineering, chocolate and precision watches, but a lesser known aspect is its legal prostitution since 1942, for which its largest city is one of the main centers in Europe.

Fashionably teak-colored open wooden garages, popularly called “sex boxes” by the Swiss media, will be open for business for drive-in customers. The several dozen sex workers who are expected to make it their new hub will stand along a short road in a small, circular park for clients to choose from and negotiate with. The park was built in a former industrial area nestled between a rail yard and the fence along a major highway.

The publicly funded facilities — open all night and located away from the city center — include bathrooms, lockers, small cafe tables and a laundry and shower. Men won’t have to worry about video surveillance cameras, but the sex workers — who will need a permit and pay a small tax — will be provided with a panic button and on-site social workers trained to look after them.

By wire reports